In the battle of the bloat, over how many superfluous bodies there might be in D.C. government, there is the case of Servicing Personnel Office No. 1 at 801 North Capitol St. NE.

There, Ronald Fulton is in charge. He's an assistant director of personnel, overseeing three division chiefs. And Mary Montgomery is his deputy assistant director of personnel, helping oversee the same three chiefs. But Fulton doesn't need a deputy. He could keep tabs on the three by himself and the District could save $59,000 a year in salary.

That, at least, is what a panel of community leaders decided after plumbing the D.C. bureaucracy. Passing no judgment on Mary Montgomery's work habits or abilities -- her name never appears in any report -- a commission headed by Alice M. Rivlin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, suggested her job was unnecessary.


Wait: Fulton says no one from the Rivlin Commission ever asked him about Servicing Personnel Office No. 1. If someone had, he would have explained that without Montgomery, "it would be miserable. My stress level would go up a lot of notches. It's definitely a tremendous role in this operation."

It is but a glimpse of the conflicts that might lie ahead as the incoming administration of Sharon Pratt Dixon compares the commission's recommendations for massive cuts with the reality of D.C. government, as alleged by department heads.

When it was published late last month, the commission's report offered few specifics in concluding that 6,049 District government jobs -- about one of every eight -- ought to be stripped from the payroll, either because they are not needed or because they could better be done by private companies hired by the city.

But in recent days, the Rivlin Commission staff has released backup papers and consultants' studies that formed the backbone of the recommendations made by the 44 panel members.

The papers portray a government in which too many administrators have too many aides and secretaries; in which some supervisors supervise only a handful of underlings; in which the tasks being done by one office are often the same as those being done by another. Tens of millions of dollars could be saved by slimming down, the commission said.

Several D.C. department heads complained that the findings seemed grounded not in the daily life of their offices, but in some abstract world. Commission analysts, they said, just didn't understand who does what and how vital it all is.

"They didn't really go out and see the work out there," said Calvin C. Tildon, the D.C. personnel director.

To which the man who coordinated the commission's staffing analyses, John DiRenzo of KPMG Peat Marwick, replied, "Who in city government is going to admit they have excess positions?"

Excess positions, alleges the Rivlin staff, such as these:

The head of the Department of Public and Assisted Housing has 11 aides. He could do without an executive assistant, a special assistant, an administrative officer, an office assistant and a clerical assistant. A deputy director in the Department of Employment Services has four aides. He needs just a secretary, the staff said.

In the Department of Administrative Services, Brij J. Malhotra is chief of the Office of Policy and Management. He has a deputy, Louis W. Parker. But the two of them supervise only six people. So there is no need for a deputy, the commission said. And because some of the office's work duplicates that of others, there's no need for the two special assistants. Nor for the administrative officer. Actually, the staff said, the office needs only three people to publish its monthly, quarterly and annual reports.

There is a District bicycle coordinator, Tom Pendleton, who promotes bike use. He's supposed to have two full-time assistants. But, said the staff, he should be peddling bikes all alone.

The District has five agencies that deal with economic development to some degree. If just two of these agencies, the Office of Business and Economic Development and the Department of Housing and Community Development, merged some of their overlapping functions, 23 positions could be eliminated. Even if they don't merge, OBED should cut 10 of its administrative positions and DHCD should cut 44.

The mayor's direct staff includes two special assistants and two executive assistants who do the same tasks as members of the city administrator's staff. Abolish the four, said the Rivlin staff. Further, the mayor's staff includes liaisons to District offices representing women, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders.

In some cases, the Rivlin staff concluded that offices were overstaffed by almost half. Of the 37 positions on the mayor's direct staff, 17 are unneeded, it said. Of the 45 people who work directly for the city administrator, 20 should be cut. It decided, too, that D.C. Council members have too much staff, compared with other legislative bodies. Thirty-eight of the 172 positions ought to go.

All told, said the commission, the District has 710 full-time positions for every 10,000 residents. That is 200 more than the average for a dozen other big cities, even allowing for the state and countylike functions the city must perform.

DiRenzo, who has done staffing analyses of other cities, said that "the problems we have identified {in the District} concerning the number of excess deputies and assistant managers is, I would have to say, far more excessive."

Such excess happened, the commission suggested, because the Barry administration rapidly expanded services during good economic times and was not as concerned as it "should have been with the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the services and programs that were delivered." City employment has risen from slightly more than 39,000 in 1982 to about 48,500 now.

The commission said it did not mean to suggest that those holding such jobs are loafing. Many are simply underutilized.

Several sources who asked not to be identified said, however, that many extra positions exist because administrators, faced with an incompetent employee, simply hire a second person to do the work, rather than begin the laborious process of having someone fired.

Not all of the 6,049 positions the commission singled out are what it believes to be bloat. Of the total, 2,030 are jobs it wants "privatized," which means the city ought to use contractors because they could do the work cheaper, or better, or both.

It also said 1,914 positions could be saved through "programmatic changes" -- that is, changes in how the District organizes or delivers services. All but a few hundred of these jobs are in the police department, which is partially a reflection of the commission's belief that crime is not affected by the number of officers on the street -- that the city could get by with far fewer.

That leaves 2,105 positions out of the 6,049 that the commission believes violate basic management rules. They can be cut by merging functions, paring down support staff and giving supervisors and assistants more to do. Many of these jobs are beyond the control of any mayor, however. The largest chunk, for example, is in the public school administration, where the commission argued there are 800 too many positions.

To reach its recommendations, the commission did not evaluate actual work done by actual people. Staff members did not camp in a given office and watch what everyone did, DiRenzo said. Instead, they first eyed organization charts.

They examined "spans of control," for example, to see if each administrator has enough to administer. Typically, a manager should be able to handle six or seven subordinate managers, DiRenzo said. In the case of Servicing Personnel Office No. 1, the staff ruled that the assistant director does not need a deputy because there are only three division chiefs who report to him. (However, Mary Montgomery, the deputy assistant director, said she handles the day-to-day problems while the assistant director "sets the goals, the policies.")

Rivlin staff members also looked for cases in which support staff seemed excessive. The director and deputy of the Department of Administrative Services have four clerical assistants between them, which the staff said seemed one too many. And the staff members looked for offices doing similar functions.

Armed with such "questionable" positions culled from organization charts, the commission asked department heads or relevant managers for more details about each job, DiRenzo said, trying to learn if there were defensible reasons for having the position. If there were none in the eyes of the Rivlin staff, the position was axed.

Even if the District wholeheartedly embraced the commission's analysis and started eliminating positions, it would face a huge problem: bumping rights. If a deputy director's job is cut, he is not out of work. He moves down a rung, knocking someone else out of a job. That person then bumps, and so on.

But far from embracing the recommendations last week, several department heads found them full of holes, though many have yet to receive the supporting documentation compiled by the Rivlin staff.

Maudine R. Cooper, who was Mayor Marion Barry's staff director until becoming president of the Washington Urban League, said the Rivlin staff misunderstood the functions of some employees in the mayor's office and clearly had no idea of the workloads of others.

The staff recommended eliminating the legal analyst who works in the office of the mayor's legal counsel, but Cooper said that person prepares all of the counsel's research. Likewise, the commission said two employees in the mayor's scheduling office keep track of letters to the mayor, just as some workers in another office do. But Cooper said the two employees actually do nothing but scheduling.

She added that cutting some positions, such as the liaison to the Office of Latino Affairs, is as much a political decision as a management one.

But at least one department head offered few criticisms: Ben Johnson, the acting chief of the Department of Public and Assisted Housing. The commission said he did not need two of his three special assistants. He's already removed them, sending them to fill vacant positions elsewhere. And he's gotten rid of his driver too.

"And this office hasn't missed a beat since they moved out," Johnson said. "I did it because I know I didn't need them . . . . With where we are and the deficit we're facing, we can ill afford to continue in the path that we were on."